Written by Andrew Bryden
Papa Noel. Father Christmas. Viejo Pascuero. Sinter Klaas. Whatever Santa Claus is called he brings smiles and joy to children (and adults) around the world, without fail. No pandemic, reindeer injury, or ice storm will stop Santa. He is ruthless.
For the last several years, the Bryden family has tracked Santa’s progress as he travels around the world on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning (we use the NORAD Santa Tracker). I fear this may be the last year we’ll do this as our children progress further into their teen and tween years. If you have younger children, it’s a fun thing to do, and I recommend you try it out.
It is fascinating to see the scope of Santa’s travels. There is literally no place he doesn’t go. Such is the impact of Christianity across the globe. We love learning about all the cities he visits. Sydney, Beijing, Moscow, Tokyo, Dar Es Salaam, Cairo, Timbuktu, Damascus, Berlin, Paris, London, Ottawa, Washington DC, Tegucigalpa, Santiago, and so on. Santa is truly a global phenomenon.
As we reflect on Santa’s international escapades, we often discuss why he puts in the effort to deliver all these presents to the children of the world. We talk about how this amazing child was born into this world, in a lowly manger in Bethlehem. We discuss the amazing acts Jesus performed and messages he shared as a young man, and we ponder the ultimate sacrifice he made to save us from our sins. We then do our best to explain how a portly man in a big red suit rides on a sleigh, pulled by reindeer, and delivers gifts in honor of Christ’s birth. It’s a stretch, but we usually make a good case for this latter point.
Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. It brings a warmth that you don’t feel at any other time of the year (at least that’s how it feels for our family). And, while it is great to follow Santa on his journey, it is even more important to understand why: the birth of Jesus. The why gives us hope. It gives us forgiveness. And, it gives us unconditional love. That’s what is most important.
Best wishes to you and your families during this Christmas period. I truly hope you have a chance to reflect on the importance of the season. And I hope you enjoy the gifts you receive, whoever delivers them.
If you miss any of our daily readings, you can find them archived here. (Readings will be added each day.) We hope these readings will help you encounter God this season!